As many of us know, naptime and bedtime can be a challenging time of day with little ones. Many children are so interested in the wonders of the world around them that they find it frustrating to have to take time out from all that they enjoy! From teething to colds to stomach troubles, many kids often feel more uncomfortable when they lie down to go to sleep and often resist getting to bed at all cost. During illnesses, we have usually found it much btter for eveyone if we keep the sick child with us so that we can monitor their condition. Fears of monsters and hurt feelings from some other time in the day often creep in when the lights go out and many kids will do anything to delay bedtime. While we always encouraged the girls to stay in their own beds at night, we now understand that there are times when they simply extra security and come to us in the middle of the night to recceive it.

In infancy, we found that a very consistent routine helped to keep our girls on a schedule. We followed the same steps each night and gave the girls a bath often using soothing products (Johnson's and Johnson's makes a nice line, but there are many others). Then we would feed them a bottle and read them a couple of nighttime stories, usually repeating at leat one every night (our favorite was "Goodnight Moon" so we always read this one last). Then we would put the girls in their cribs and play a heartbeat CD which had classical nursery songs set over the heartbeat in the background. We used the heartbeat CD for several years and it was so helpful. It soothed and calmed the girls and set a calm beat in the room. They loved having backrubs and tickles to relax their bodies as well.

When one of our girls started to climb out of her crib repeatedly, bedtime became more of a challenge. We finally got the message that she wanted a "big girl bed" when she showed us an example in her doll house. She had been so frustrated because she knew what she wanted, but she didn't have the words yet to explain it to us. We switched to toddler beds and were faced with the challenges they bring along. We have found it helpful for the girls to have fun stuffed animals, favorite quilts and pillows(they love their "pillow pets") in order to make their beds their own personal space. A routine of brushing teeth, going potty, getting dressed and reading books has also helped us. We try to make sure that if one us is not there at bedtime that we say goodnight ahead of time or on the phone. Working towards having bunk beds has been a positive motivator for one of our girls to try and stay in bed through the night. She often comes to us for comfort in the wee hours of the night and can now tell us if she has experienced a bad dream. We have such a better understanding of the reasons why she had trouble going to sleep and staying asleep now that she can communicate with us. The difficulty with communication early on between parents and their children is obviously one of the main reasons for all the sleep issues experienced in those early years!! If only we could explain to each other what is going on!!

Hope some of these strategies that we used are helpful to you! Keep the faith if you are struggling with sleep issues! Things will get better!!:):):)